CORVALLIS — Oregon State gymnastics is gearing up for a big season.
The Beavers are coming off a sixth-place finish in the NCAA Championships last spring, OSU’s best finish since taking fourth in 1996.
Senior Lena Greene said it was a big confidence boost for the Beavers.
“We already knew that we were capable of those routines but to just have it all play out at that time, in that moment, was obviously just really exciting for us,” Greene said. “And it also just kind of brought more awareness to us and we’ve built an even bigger fanbase in our already strong Beaver Nation, so that will also be exciting to see more people in Gill (Coliseum) this year. It will be fun.”
Now the goal is to surpass that sixth-place finish.
The No. 11 Beavers start their new season on Friday at the Critique Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. No. 8 Georgia, No. 29 Iowa and Bridgeport are the other teams competing at the meet.
It will be a good gauge for OSU right out of the gate.
“We’re going to look at it as, we got that far and now how can we be even better?” OSU sophomore Madi Dagen said. “And I think that people now know that we can be that good and now they’re going to watch out for us, which is really cool.
“It’s nice that we got to make that statement and we get to prove to people that it wasn’t just like luck or anything. We know that we worked really hard for that and we’re here to do it again and even be better.
“That was the goal since the beginning of the season and we knew that we could get there, and I think having such a good group of upperclassmen really helped, just them knowing how everything works. Being a freshman last year, I was just thrown into everything, but I think that was good and it was so much fun. I think this year, now we know even more than we did last year. It’s just like, we’re going to keep improving,” Dagen added.
Gone from that team are McKenna Singley, Mary Jacobsen and Mariana Colussi-Pelaez, but the bulk of the roster returns.
Junior Kaitlyn Yanish was all-Pac-12 first team on floor and was a 2019 Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association regular season second team all-American.
Yanish scored two 9.900s in the NCAA Corvallis Regional on floor. She scored a career high of 9.975 against UCLA, scored three 9.950s, one 9.925 and five 9.900s last season.
Yanish also scored a career high 9.925 on vault at LSU and added a 9.900 at Arizona State.
Senior Isis Lowery was also a force on floor, matching her career best of 9.950 at the Pac-12 Championships. Lowery also had a 9.950 against UCLA. She had two 9.925s and also scored two 9.900s at the Corvallis Regional and at the NCAA Championships semifinals, and had five for the season.
Lowery came up big on bars when it counted with 9.900s at the Pac-12s, the Corvallis Regional finals and against UCLA. She was a second team all-American on floor.
Dagen had a 9.925, five 9.900s and two 9.875s on beam. She also had a 9.925 on floor and two 9.875s on vault.
Beam specialist Maela Lazaro matched her career high of 9.925 in the second round of the Corvallis Regional after hitting that score at Washington in the third meet of the season. Lazaro also finished with three 9.900s and had a 9.888 at the NCAA Championships semifinals. She was a second team all-American on beam.
Senior Sabrina Gill was a big part of the Beavers’ push to the NCAA Championships, scoring a 9.925 and 9.900 on bars, and a 9.875 and a 9.900 on beam. She also had a 9.900 and 9.875 on both bars and beam in earlier meets.
Senior Halli Briscoe was a second team all-American on bars. She had a 9.900 on the event at the semifinals of the NCAA Championships. She had 9.875s against UCLA and LSU and at the Corvallis regional.
Also back are Lacy Dagen, who had two 9.900s on beam and Savanna Force, who had a 9.925, 9.900 and three 9.875s on floor.
OSU coach Tanya Chaplin said senior Destinee Davis has gotten stronger and has the potential to be back in a few lineups and sophomore Kristina Peterson, who competed once last season, will be a contributor on vault and possibly floor.
“To start the season off with some of the depth we have bodes well, because you just never know what happens throughout the seasons,” Chaplin said. “We have illnesses, little injuries that can keep us out a week or so or we may have to rest someone so that they don’t get an overuse injury.
“What having that depth does is allows us to be more efficient throughout the season so that we have a stronger team at the end of the season.”
A point of emphasis during the offseason for the Beavers was bolstering the vault lineup.
Tanya and assistant coach Michael Chaplin wanted more gymnasts with a 10.00 start value on the event so it could regularly match the team scores on bars, beam and floor and give the Beavers a better shot at higher overall meet scores.
“It’s good,” Madi Dagen said. “I think it helps to have your teammates doing it too, so you can build off of each other and it’s exciting to watch everybody, and I know Michael’s excited to have some more 10.00 vaults, so I think it will be really good for our team to have that for that event.”
Greene, who has a 10.00 start value on her front pike-half vault, said adding 10.00 start values will help when postseason arrives.
“It gives us more confidence going into postseason that we have that leg up if we do get to put all those 10.00s in,” Greene said.
“So I think that we missed the finals by maybe a tenth, so every single tenth counts, even the half-tenths. Even just coming from every little stick, every little toe point, we’re working real hard on the details as we do every season. Then adding those 10.00 start values will definitely help as well.”